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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Solo Tour Diary: Trip 3 - Coastal Karnataka - Day 3 - Murudeshwara Dhenu Atithya's "Gou Pooje", Gokarna

Continued from Day 2.

I woke up at around 6.15 am again. I had my plan ready:

Get ready by 7.30 am, eat breakfast by 8 am, attend the hotel Dhenu Athithya's "Gou Pooje" by 8.30 am and leave ASAP to reach Gokarna by 11.30 am maximum.

Once I reach Gokarna, I would cover the Mahabaleshwar and Mahaganapathi temples there, head to Kudle beach, have lunch there, take a boat to Paradise beach, trek back to Half-Moon beach, watch sunset at Om Beach and head back to the checkpost to catch my Bangalore-bound bus at 7.15 pm.

The good thing with a solo trip is that 99% of the time, things always go according to your plan. But sometimes, there's the 1% of the time where they don't :D ...Day 3 was one such day.

I got ready by 7.30 am, had 2 lovely idlis for breakfast at the in-house restaurant. I decided I would go easy on the last day and not hog much, because I had to travel at night and I would not have a good bathroom until Monday morning when I would reach home :P (I'm saying this because I had a not-so-good experience on the last day of my South Tamil Nadu solo trip! :D)

So yes, I was all set and waiting for the pooja to begin, but it began at Indian Standard Time :D - By the time it began, it was 8.45 am. But I whiled away time until then by playing with the cow and the calf :)

Getting a cow to pose for a selfie is an extremely, extremely difficult task on earth.

But getting a calf, not difficult at all :D

Anyway, the pooja began at 8.45 am. I was a bit excited - I'd never seen or performed this sort of pooja ever in my life. This was going to be the first time. It was quite good. A few other hotel residents too, took part.

For the first time in my trip, after the selfie overdose, I found someone else to click a photo of me :D Thanks to the hotel receptionist for clicking this:

By the time the pooja got over, it was 9.15 am. I rushed up to my room, picked my stuff and checked out. Across the road, there was a mini-van waiting to go to Honnavar. We reached Honnavar at around 10.15 am if I'm not wrong, passing through the Sharavathi river.

By this time, I knew that I had to change my plan a little, because both temples close by 12.30 pm. I decided to have lunch at Om beach and then witness sunset at Kudle beach instead. From Honnavar, I had to take another bus to Kumta. We reached Kumta by 11.20 am I think. From there, I had to take another bus to Gokarna. By the time we reached Gokarna, it was 12.15 pm.

I was amazed when I saw Gokarna - very very small roads, very very small buildings and foreigners all over! It was like stepping into some totally different, European country altogether!

Anyway, I walked along the street, it was quite hot. I finally reached the Mahaganapathi temple, which, to my pleasant surprise, was open. So I went in there and had my darshan. Men have to remove their t-shirts before entering the sanctum. The darshan costs 1 Rupee. That got over soon.

But the Mahabaleshwar temple was closed by then. The crowd of people waiting outside said that the next darshan would only be at 2 pm. I didn't want to waste time until then. I had only 5-6 hours in Gokarna, I had to cover as much as I could. I walked from there to Kotitheertha - it is about a 5-10 minute walk.

I also came back and saw the Gokarna beach. It wasn't great - it was a bit dirty and moreover, quite hot.

I walked back and decided to go to Kudle beach. This walk was longer than I expected and more tiring than I expected :D

It was hot and it was quite a deserted trail. Occasionally, a vehicle or two would go on the road. Else, it's a lonely walk. When you finally reach the beach, you go down another green-covered route which will make you feel like you're in the Outback racing track (NFS-2, anyone?)

You finally enter the beach, from right next to the Pizzeria cafe. I was too starved by then, so I decided to eat there itself. I would've ideally liked some curd rice somewhere, but this was like a European country :P So after going through the menu, I ordered a Cheese Mushroom Omlette.

I then took a walk up to the other end of Kudle beach and then walked back. Frankly, after seeing such deserted, calm beaches, seeing such a crowded beach sort of dampened my spirits. I saw groups of Indians and foreigners having fun, just relaxing by the beach side and enjoying beer. For the first time in my trip, I began to feel like I was a misfit there :D ...I absolutely didn't mind ogling at the bikini-clad foreigners though :P :P

It was about 2.30 pm I think. Once back to the auto stand, I took an auto to the Mahabaleshwar temple. The driver said that it would open only at 5 pm next. So I asked him to head to Om Beach instead. Now the drive to Om Beach is pretty long-winded through a hilly, curvy road and it takes about 20 minutes to get there. The auto driver charged 150 Rupees. Kind of a fleece, yes, but I had no choice! So I reached Om Beach. The driver said that he himself would wait for me there, without any waiting charge. I told him I would take at least an hour and a half. He didn't mind :)

So I went down towards the much-hyped Om beach and it was a good view. Once I got down, it was a similar feeling - quite a crowded beach, lot of foreigners and groups of friends playing frisbee, or sitting and enjoying beer or couples doing the same.

That's when I realized that Gokarna is simply NOT the place for a solo trip. Gokarna is the kinda place you should visit with your friends or with your partner. It's the kinda place where you just sit by the beach all day, enjoy your beer and do absolutely nothing. It's not the kinda place you want to do sight-seeing in. It's the kinda place that'll only make you feel more lonely, if you're a solo traveler :D

I walked along the beach to the other end, kept clicking pics and walked back. I briefly sat at Namaste Cafe and had a watermelon juice. I decided to cut out Half-Moon beach and Paradise beach from my plan, as I felt it really wasn't worth going all the way. I didn't quite enjoy the famed beaches themselves, there was less probability that I'd enjoy the ones that were known for being inhabited only by foreigners.

So I walked back to the auto stand by around 4 pm. The auto-driver showed me a cave near Kudle beach, inside which there was a temple.

He also showed me a famous hole in the hall that apparently has water 24*7*365.

From there, we headed to the temple. It was another 150 bucks :-/

I had half an hour to kill until the darshan began at 5. So I walked to the Gokarna beach and sat there in one of the benches. At around 4.45 pm, I headed to the Mahabaleshwar temple, waited in the long queue that had already been formed. The queue, however, moved fast and I was out by 5.30 pm. Males are supposed to remove their tshirts on entry. This was a very weird darshan - in the sanctum, people had to go on their knees, put their hands in some sort of a tumbler and touch the soaked lentils in the water. I had never heard of such a thing before :) Anyway, I was out.

My bus was only at 7.15 pm, so I decided to catch sunset at the Gokarna beach itself.

And as the clock struck 6 pm, I witnessed an amazing sunset, which FINALLY gave me some reason to cheer, in this otherwise, pretty lackluster Gokarna leg of my trip :)

After the sunset, I walked all the way back to the checkpost - at least 1.5 km and found my VRL bus waiting there. I decided to have a light meal before boarding. I found Hotel Shivaprasad there - I had read good reviews of this lodge while researching about Gokarna. So I went in and had 2 idlis. They tasted BAD! :-/ What to do? I had no other choice! :)

Anyway, I boarded the VRL sleeper bus - it was extremely good, far more comfortable than the Durgamba sleeper bus and we soon started off. I reached RR Nagar gate, Bangalore the next day`at 7 am.

Phew! That ends another highly memorable, highly refreshing, hugely satisfying, exhilarating and more than anything, amazingly detoxifying solo trip :) As I typed this travelogue series, I was and am still reeling in the travel hangover :)

But as I said earlier, the only way to beat travel hangover is to plan your next trip! :D
And I think I should get on it soon! :)

That's about it, folks. For those of you who've read until the end, thank you very much for your patience! :)

Until the next solo trip,


lalsub said...

Terrific long read. Good pics, humour, detail, the lot.But why crib about age when you are not yet 28?

Ashwini Kumar said...

It took me back to September 2002. I alongwith my brother visited Gokarna, trekked to Kutle beach, and further to Om beach and trekked back to Gokarna. It was a warm day, not the most pleasant. But the beaches were so good, it was worth all the effort. We both enjoyed the trek in Western Ghat hills, soaked ourselves in the waves at Om beach and had time of our lives. Life is so much fun when we are 20-something.

Girish Palkar said...

My trip to Murudeshwar Temple – India